tv CNN Newsroom CNN February 11, 2011 3:00pm-5:00pm EST
>> president obama is about to make a statement about mubarak's sudden resignation and the future of egypt. he has been meeting in the white house situation room with his national security team. we obviously will bring you the president live when he begins speaking. right now let aets go to nic robertson live in cairo. nic, we may have to jump to the president any moment, but the scenes you are seeing there, you have been in alexandria throughout much of this crisis. how does it compare to cairo? >> reporter: anderson, it's absolutely euphoric down here. i'm down in one of the medical centers where they've been -- doctors are treating the wound people here. i'm joined by a young doctor here. how did you feel when you heard about this? >> finally, our own -- we are so happy. we are going to get our country and -- the future.
>> reporter: mohammed, you've been down here working in the clinic. how do you feel now getting this news? >> first of all, i want to send a message to all respectable people who supported this revolution. i'd like to thank you. thank you all people. we couldn't be happier. if you are here in tahrir square, never have the egyptian felt freedom. and tomorrow you'll see them in tahrir square and the future you will see them celebrating with the progress here in tahrir square. to be answered in this protest, to me, to be wound, i hope this scar will -- >> reporter: mohammed you have a lot of american friends here. >> yeah. >> reporter: what's your message to all of your friends in the united states now? >> friends, i'm so, so, sorry, shandy, so sorry to all of my american friends that you couldn't complete your tour here
in egypt. and i promise you when i become a big doctor here in egypt i will invite you all to visit tahrir square and to look at the progress and freedom here. bye-bye. >> reporter: i want to come back to you. what is it you want to happen now? this is a great night for you, but what next? [ inaudible ] >> reporter: thank you very much. i'd like to bring in aaron here. you're a tour guide. what does it mean to you to get this news today about president mubarak? >> i'm very happy because i hear this. now we can get the position of egypt that we learn and we study over the history of egypt from abraham the prophet from egypt
and our prophet jesus christ, he said, egypt my people, our prophet moses here, prophet muhammad from here also. this was before egypt not like this. so this is a moment that we can rebuild egypt again. we can discover egypt again with a new age, with a new hopement this is for all egyptian people in tahrir square. >> reporter: now the army is in control, running the country. what's your message to the army now? >> we are -- all egyptian people are army, an army in the egyptian people. so all over egyptian history the army, the egyptian army, the fairest support and defense in crisis and everything. so i needed to say message for egyptian army, just say you're
welcome. we're all one. this is egypt and egypt for egyptian. egypt for egyptianment thank . u thank you so much. >> reporter: you've been waiting patiently. a great celebration going on behind us. i'm going to have to wrap. a lot of people waiting to talk to us. clearly a huge celebration, everyone incredibly excited. anderson? >> everybody it seems wants to tell their story, express themselves, something in many cases they haven't felt free to do on camera for a very long time. let's bring in wolf in washington. >> anderson, we're going to hear from the president in just a moment shgt but i want to get john king in first. john, you've been looking at the evolution, shall we say, of the u.s. reaction. >> and this, wolf, will be where the president speaks in about a minute and a half. that will be an exclamation point after an revolution. ten days ago, president obama spoke to president mubarak and told him it was time quickly to answer the protestors.
>> must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now. >> begin now is the president's line. but by the weekend secretary of state hillary clinton was saying we understand president mubarak might have to stay a while. >> with the transition to democracy, it can be chaotic. it can cause short-term instability. even worse -- and we have seen it before -- the transition can backslide into just another authoritarian regime. >> yet another shift, secretary clinton was on saturday, then wednesday robert gibbs at the white house saying he saw evidence the egyptians were backsliding. he tried to nudge them. >> more has to be done and i think more importantly the people of egypt thinks more has to be done. >> then yesterday of course the president thought president mubarak was going to step down yesterday. the white house received the word from egypt and the president was almost celebrating. >> we are witnessing history unfold. it's a moment of transformation
that's taking place because the people of egypt are calling for change. >> that didn't happen yesterday, of course, wolf. and the white house issued a tough statement last night. in a minute we'll hear the president celebrate what did happen today. >> there he comes to the microphone right now. the president of the united states. >> there are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. this is one of those moments. this is one those times. the people of egypt have spoken. their voices have been heard. and egypt will never be the same. by stepping down, president hosni mubarak responded to the egyptian people's hunger for changement b change. but this is not the end of egypt's transition. it's the beginning. i'm sure there will be difficult days ahead and many questions remain unanswered.
but i am confident that the people egypt can find the answers and do so peacefully, constructively and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. for egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the dayment the military has served patriotically and responsibly, as a caretaker to the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the egyptian people. that means protecting the rights of egypt's citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free. above all, this transition must bring all of egypt's voices to
the table for the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this change. the united states will continue to be a friend and partner to egyptment we stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary and asked for to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. i'm also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunities, jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight. and i know that a democratic egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world. egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000
years. but over the last few weeks the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace as the egyptian people demanded their universal rights. we saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like. we saw young egyptians say, for the first time in my life i really count. my voice is heard. even though i'm only one person, this is the way real democracy works. we saw protestors chant sel mia, we are peaceful, again and again. we saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect. and we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for the wound. volunteers checking protestors
to ensure that they were unarmed. we saw people of faith praying together and chanting muslims christians, we are oneme. and though we know the strains of faith divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes show us that we need not be defined by our differences. we can be defined by the common humanity that we share. and, above all, we saw a new generation emerge, a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears. a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. one egyptian put it simply -- most people have discovered in the last few days that they are
worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore. ever. this is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. egyptians have inspired us, and they've done so by putting the eye to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. for in egypt it was the moral force of nonviolence, not terrorism, not mindless killing, but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more. and while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely egyptian, we can't help but hear the echos of history, echos from germans tearing down a wall, indonesian students taking to the streets, gandhi leading his people down the path justice.
as martin luther king said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in ghana while trying to perfect his own, there's something in the soul that cries out for freedom. those were the cries that came from tahrir square and the entier world has taken note. today belongs to the people of egypt, and the american people are moved by these scenes in cairo and across egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in. the word tahrir means liberation. it's a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. and forever more it will remind us of the egyptian people, of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country and
in doing so changed the world. thank you. >> there he is, the president of the united states. six minutes, powerful words from the president of the united states, as all of us recognize there are very few moments that we can truly be witnesses to history. today we saw history unfold. the president speaking directly not only to the american people but to the entire world, also speaking to the people of egypt. it was interesting that egyptian state television was carrying the president's remarks live even as we were watching. the folks in egypt were watching president obama as well. today belongs to the people of egypt, he said. he wants them to appreciate what's going on. but this is a moment that he also says, know that the united states will continue to be a friend and partner to all the people of egypt. this is a time when we are sure that the people of egypt are listening to the president of
the united states. gloria borger is here, john king is here, dan lothian is over at the white house. let's go to dan first, our white house correspondent. i know these words were very carefully crafted by the president and his national security team. he came to the podium from a meeting he had at the white house situation room in the west wing of the white house. they've got a lot on their plate right now, dan. >> reporter: they really do. and i should point out that that meeting was not planned. the president did just drop in on his principals who were focused on the situation in egypt. he wanted to get the latest developments. that's why his remarks were delayed. but as he pointed out, what happened today was sort of what the administration expected would have happened yesterday. there was a lot of confusion. that's why yesterday when the president was in michigan you maerd somewhat optimistic comment from him suggesting that the white house itself also believed that mr. mubarak was in the process of soon stepping down. that did not happen yesterday so there was a delay in response from the administration, harsh
language from the president in a release that was sent out late last night. but today a step that aides here at the white house say is a welcome step, but certainly as the president himself pointed out, still difficult days ahead. and you heard him speaking directly to the military saying that they have a responsibility to protect the rights of the people of egypt. that is the big concern, now that mubarak has left. who will step in, and what will that process be like before you have the elections in september, wolf? >> nothing less than genuine democracy is going to work for the people of egypt. dan, stand by. hala, this is a moment, as i said, people in egypt have been watching, waiting for for a long time. who knew it would take 18 days to reach this moment? >> really, i don't think anybody called it. 18 days, a very short time period when you think of how entrenched this leadership was in egypt. live pictures there on the right-hand side of your screen. this is tahrir square, still
teeming with demonstrators and protestors. is it a festive atmosphere in the center of cairo. nic robertson is among the protestors, the dmon stlait -- demonstrates. i don't know if those in the square are aware that president obama spoke about them and told the world egyptians have inspired us today. >> reporter: well, let me, hala, talk to a couple of people who are with me right now. ahmed, you've been down here on the square for many days. the united states, international community, just listened to president obama saying america will support egypt if it wants help and assistance and hopes it will be a good transition for jobs for the young people. what would your message be for president obama? >> actually, we're very -- we sometimes -- we do not actually who he support.
he serves his own purposes and for -- we -- the egyptian people look for our freedom and democracy. any democratic country should be for the people, not for its own purpose. >> reporter: right now president obama is saying that he will give egypt and the young people of egypt whatever assistance they want if they want it and if they ask for it. do you need assistance from the united states? >> for sure from the start of the revolution to build up the country again from the bad people here. surely we would need support for the first time, first year at least. but then i think we will be a country that depends on itself. even should give support to other countries. >> reporter: thank you very
much. mastafa just joining me. you just heard president obama saying he wants to extend support and assistance to egyptians if they want any and he hopes there are more jobs for young people in the future. what is your message for president obama? >> my message for president obama is we started this revolution without any outside help, and we are going to finish it without any outside help. of course i'm thanking him for his spiritual support, but we don't need any extra support from him. i want to say this is just the beginning of the revolution. if everyone stay for the next six months until the next presidential election, the spirit here in the square, that means we are going to finish the road the right way. we have seen everyone here in the square for the last two weeks. it was just marvelous. everyone is doing a great job. doctors, workers, even little children in the street. everyone was supported by their own feelings. so we can continue, and this is just the beginning.
>> reporter: president obama says it was important that it was peaceful mostly so far and it's important that it continues peacefully, this revolution. can it continue peacefully, do you think? >> that only depends on who is going to be in charge here. -- from the egyptian people. i think if the military kept being in charge for only the next six months, that would be great. other than that, it's going to be chaos. there's one thing i'm afraid of. yes, in tahrir square everything was perfect. but we lack leadership. i'm sorry to say, but it's the truth. right now we need to develop leadership, which will take us to the road of democracy for the next six months. >> reporter: where are you going to find the leaders? you're young people who are showing solidarity and support. where do you find the leaders? >> i'm afraid we have to find them. they are available, but for three deck aids there was no political theme in egypt so everything was demolished.
that's the problem right now. that's why we need the six-month period, transition, this is only a transitional period. >> reporter: are you pleased that president obama has come out however and says he supports this change and supports the people and the young people and what they've done? >> actually, president obama's views were kind of conflicting in the last weeks. now he's saying that he is supporting the people, that's a good thing. i'm sure after all he's pro-democracy. he can't just be pro anything else. >> reporter: thank you so much. hala, the view from here is one of being happy the president is behind the people. there has been a feeling that the message wasn't clear enough for the people. it was swinging backwards and forwards to president mubarak. but now that feeling does seem to have changed, clearly a change that there is some ass t assistance that will be needed in the coming months.
>> i'll be interested to hear from the young people when they have an opportunity to go through the entire speech. egyptians have inspired us, he said. they've changed the world. very interesting to hear sort of an immediate reaction from them just off the back of that address. nic robertson in tahrir square with the rest of our team on the ground. wolf, back to you. >> you can expect the people of egypt can expect the united states, as president obama just said, to remain a friend and partner to all the people of egypt. we'll take a quick break. we have a lot to digest. we're watching what's happening on the streets of cairo right now. we just heard from the president of the united states. we're getting more international reaction coming in as well. stay with us. our special coverage will continue right after this. >> translator: i president mohammed hosni mubarak has decided to step down.
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united states. we just heard from president obama over at the white house saying, very few of us are privileged to witness history, but we did in fact witness history today. gloria borger is here, john king is here. gloria, these were carefully crafted words. >> oh, yes. >> by the president. and i think in part to the american public, the international community, but mostly he was addressing the 80 million people of egypt. >> yeah, he was. and it was very clear that this is a president that cares a great deal about those people in the square because he talked about it as a generational shift, and he also was very clear, wolf, to talk p aboabout military as a caretaker to the state. he laid out definite things that need to be done, lifting emergency law, revising the constitution, establishing a clear path to free and fair elections. but i couldn't help but think of barack obama himself, somebody who represents generational change in this country, change in so many ways in this country.
somebody who grew up whoshgs was in indonesia, for example, and he mention that. a president actually who was unburdened by a 30-year relationship with mubarak, as many of our former leaders were. a much younger person who was able to be a part of this. a small part of it but a part of it nonetheless. >> and yet a writer barack obama is, when you close one chapter and turn the page, the new chapter is blank and it has yet to be written. they have a lot of questions. that's why the president said there will be difficult days ahead. he tried to be very optimistic lending his support to the young people. but frankly in the white house situation room today they don't know what's next. they know they have good reelgships with the leaders of the egyptian military, based on trust and understanding. but they don't know how many political parties will emerge, how strong will the muslim brotherhood be even there is actually a multiparty elections
six months from now, what will the reaction? i had a conversation with mike hayden, he said today anwar al awlaki and saddam hussein are probably celebrating because you've had a fall of a u.s. ally. but general hayden said, if you could get this democracy, that would be the worst thing for the islamist forces because it would be in such conflict to see democracy sprout up in the arab world. to get from where we are today to fill this next chapter, there are so many huge and consequential questions, which is why he's trying to keep the cheers and energy going into building a political system, the hard part. >> and working with the egyptian military, who in the interim is the key player in egypt. >> right. first all we don't know what suleiman's role is at this point. we assume he doesn't have a role. he's clearly not going to be acceptable to the people on the streets and in the square. we're going to have to see what occurs with that. but the military is, of course,
key here. and i think one of the unsung heroes in all of this may be our own defense secretary gates who have been in close contact with his counterpart in the egyptian military. >> five conversations. they refused to talk about it at the pentagon, admirable mullen, secretary gates has this relationship going back to his cia days and admirable mullen to the gulf war. in the gulf war, those relationships were built back then. they are critically important now. >> very good relationship between u.s. military commanders and egyptian military commanders. a whole generation has been trained here in the united states, most of the military, sophisticated hardware is u.s. made. we'll take a quick break. we'll continue our coverage. the white house, by the way, getting ready for a press briefing on what's going on. it has to be the press secretary's robert gibbs' final briefing. we'll check in over there. we'll also go back to cairo. stay with us. our special coverage will
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we have a minute before going to the white house for a press briefing on the situation in egypt. arwa damon is among the crowd there. arwa, the u.s. president said egyptians have inspired us. ask people around you what their reaction to that statement is. >> reporter: well, the crowd here is so excited i can actually hardly hear what you're saying. i'm just going to give them a chance too talk, express their emotions on what truly is a historic day, not just for egypt but for the region as a whole.
>> translator: most people are not able to find -- afford vegetables and very expensive lessons as well. we want security and disability for the future of egypt. [ speaking in arabic ] >> reporter: she says, very happy, very proud. >> we're having a bit of trouble hearing you, arwa, but we get an idea there. president obama and the white house press secretary robert gibbs right now with more on the
egypt situation. >> well, listen, obviously gibbs' departure is not the biggest one today. having said that, i thought i should come into the briefing room just to say a few words about my departing press secretary. as some of you know, robert started very early with me on this wild ride that i've been on. i had run for the united states senate. i was not expected to win. when i won, the democratic primary in illinois, i realized that i was going to have to start staffing up a little bit. at the time i only had i think six, seven people working for me. and i still didn't have a lot of money so all i could afford was
gibbs. so robert came to work with me, and we had what appeared to be a pretty significant general election, and then allen keyes came in. and so that ended up not being our primary focus. we then had this incredible opportunity to speak at the national convention in boston. i know that a lot of you think that probably most attention was devoted to the speech that i delivered, the keynote speech, in boston. but, in fact, actually the most challenging problem was what tie to wear. and this went up to the very last minute. i mean, ten minutes before we were about to go on stage we
were still having an argument about ties. i bought five, six ties. michelle didn't like any of them. axelrod didn't like a couple of them, him being one of the best-dressed men in the world. so we really valued his opinion. and then somebody -- i don't remember who it was -- turned and said, you know what? what about gibbs' tie? what about gibbs' tie? that might look good. frankly, robert didn't want to give it up because he thought he looked really good in the tie. but eventually he was willing to take one for the gipper so he took off his tie and i put it on. and that's the tie that i wore at the national convention. he has not said anything about this tie all these years, but i have to tell you that i know there's a simmering resentment that he never got it back.
and so, as a consequence, i wanted here today -- i wanted this on the record, on camera, that i am finally returning robert's tie. and if he chooses to break the glass, he can. but this is going to be a reminder to me that robert has not only been an extraordinary press secretary, but he has been a great friend. and you could not ask for somebody better in the fox hole with you during all the twists and turns of my candaidacy and then the incredible challenges that we've faced over the last two yooears. so i'm so proud of him and everybody here loves robert. he's going to be working closely with us. i don't think we could have a better press secretary. i think jake is going to do an
outstanding job filling robert's shoes, but i certainly couldn't have a better friend at the podium each and every day. so i wanted to say congratulations. >> is it signed? >> of course. >> what does it say? >> i didn't actually sign the tie because as i said he may decide he wants to wear it. it just says, i thought that i should finally give you your tie back. it and you helped me get started. all right? thank you, brother. >> thank you. >> thank you. you notice, by the way, that he bought one just like it. >> i like that tie. >> anything further about egypt? >> i like that tie. let me say just a few things
before we get down to talking about what we have every day and what we should every day, and that's the business of the country. it is a tremendous honor and privilege to do this each and every day, to serve and to take part in days like today that are so momentous. and i want to thank the president and all of his team for, again, the privilege to serve. i don't want to spend a lot time doing this. i don't talk about myself well, but i would be remiss if i didn't talk about a group of people that i want to be clear doesn't work for me but i have
the great privilege and am lucky enough to work with. i would not want to do this job, as amazing and as exciting as it is, without themment a. and i wouldn't have made it through it without them. i don't intend today or tomorrow to tell any of you good-bye because i don't intend to go anywhereme anywhere. you all are forever a part of this experience for me. you've become a greater extension of my family. we've shared a lot of extraordinary times. i will miss boring days like today at the white house. i should tell you that for all
of you that are looking for help on your morning shows that jay likes calls around 4:15 in the morning. if you don't get through at first, just keep dialing. again, it has been an extraordinary privilege, and i will have more to say to all of these guys and more to say to those of you that are in the back of the room that have meant so much to me and continue to mean so much to me. but before i lose it, we should probably start the 250th briefing of the obama administration with mr. feller. >> thank you, robert. well, first of all, congratulations to you. >> thank you. i would have bet a serious sum of money that bill plante
wouldn't have dunked me. i would have lost that bet and gotten wet. >> regarding egypt, first of all, can you tell us whether president obama was surprised by the news this morning? >> well, look, i think that throughout the morning we had gotten and into last night indications that the last speeches may not have been given and the last changes particularly this morning with the -- with everybody reporting that there would be a statement from the office of the president. so the president, as i think many of you have reported, was in a regularly scheduled meeting in the oval when a note was taken in to him to let him know what had been announced. and since then, prior to giving
the statement, he spent about an hour with his national security team from about 1:30 to 2:30 in the situation room talking about what's going on there now and what we have to plan for now going forward. >> he learned when he got that note after the announcement essentially he learned with the rest of us. >> well, he learned what precisely had been said. i don't want to get into what other information he might have gotten. >> big picture, is this change helpful or harmful to the interests of the united states? >> well, ben, i think that anytime that a government change is based on the popular response of its people, as you've heard the president talk about a lot, is important. all governments have responsibilities to those that
they represent. i think as you heard the president say in his statement, there will be many bumps along this road, as this transition continues toward free and fair elections. so i don't doubt, as i said, there will be -- there's much work to be done. this was -- this is the beginning of that process, not the end of it. >> does the president have any concerns as that process unfolds about the unknowns, about the defensive instability right now? >> i think partnership that we've had with the people and the nation of egypt for 30 years has brought regional stability and has brought peace, particularly between the countries of egypt and israel. and i think it's important that the next dpogovernment of egypt we've said in here many times recognize the accords that have
been signed with the government of israel. you know, i think that, again, a lot is yet to be determined. i think it is clear, though, watching the events unfold over the last couple of days the real breadth of egyptian society that's been out seeking the type of of change that we saw happen today. i don't think this is dominated by a single group or a single ideology. i think the breadth is quite wide. yes, ma'am? >> robert, since the protest began, all of your statements about egypt have been very carefully worded. i thought last night's statement from the president was especially carefully worded. mubarak wasn't even mentioned. did the president have a sense then when he issued that statement that maybe the speech yesterday from mubarak wasn't the final word? >> well, look, i think it is safe to say that the very same
contacts that we have in egypt are some of the very same contacts that many of you all had, that seemed to tell everyone that a different speech might be what we would hear. that we didn't hear last night. and i think, as the statement says, it was at that point a missed opportunity for the government of egypt to take the necessary steps toward that orderly transition. i think that was -- i think quite frankly, karen, that's been true building throughout the week, that you have seen as the government failed to take the necessary steps to broaden the coalition and to make some fundamental reforms that would signal to those in the opposition that they were serious, the crowds grew larger
and larger. so there is no doubt i think that there has -- this is -- this is a situation where i think the phrase we've used a lot around here is "threading the needle." there are a lot of equities in the country and in the region. ultimately this is something that started with, was driven by, and will ultimately only be solved by the people of egypt. i think that is true in the lead-up to the historic announcement today but will be even more important in the days ahead leading to elections. >> can you talk about any contacts or leaders in the region that have taken place since the announcement? >> since the announcement today? the president has not made any
phone calls either to those in region or not talked to any heads of state. >> what about senior-level -- what kind of assurances, if any, can you give israel and jordan about how this may affect them and their concerns about stability? >> well, look, we have throughout this process wanted to see protests that were peaceful, protests that were -- our outcome in this process we wanted to see happened in an orderly way to ensure some of that very stability. i think that if you -- that's what quite frankly has guided us this entire time. the president, again, has not spoken with anybody. i do not believe at this point, though you should check more carefully with the pentagon, in terms of whether in the last few
hours, i don't think there have been any contacts. obviously we've got pretty good relationships, as you've seen throughout this process, on a military to military basis. i will say it is remarkable to watch in the region how iran is dealing with this. you know, we saw i think about a week or so ago they made some provocative statements about what these marches meant. we now know how they're responding to the images that we see in tahrir square. they are arresting people in iran. they are blocking international media outlets. they are turning off the internet. so for all of the empty talk about egypt, i think it's the iranian government -- i think
it's up -- the iranian government should allow the iranian people to oexercise the very same right of peaceful assembly and ability to demonstrate and communicate their desires. i think we've all seen, again, their response, the head of the revolutionary guard said today se divisionists are no more thoon a corporation. we will severely crush any of their moverments. so i think what you've seen in the region is the government of iran quite frankly scared of the will of its people. jay. >> thanks, robert. before i ask my last questions of you in this room, good luck. i hope you get to spend a lot of time with -- i've also looked back at all the questions you said you'd get back to us with an answer that you didn't come back with starting in january of
2009. >> jay will have a transcript of all of those on monday. if you don't get it, keep pinging him. >> when is the last time president obama spoke with president mubarak? >> i'd have to double-check, but i believe it was -- i think it was right before he spoke -- it was monday, right in the monday that he spoke, the last one. >> the last time you announced -- >> there haven't been any calls, that i'm aware. >> under the obama administration the state department changed the way that civil society in egypt was funded, first of all. it didn't directly defend civil society groups, pro-democracy groups as the bush administration had done it and instead it went through the egyptian government through approval civil society groups, and it also lowered that much civil society groups were funded. in retrospect, does the obama administration regret that?
>> no, look, i can give you a little bit longer fact pattern on this. i think that -- i think our commitment to the universal principles that the president has talked about throughout this process, and in countries not just in egypt and not just in egypt but around the world are best exemplified by what he said standing in cairo. saying many. things you've heard him say over the past several days. obviously we are -- we are watching the situation, and will as i think members have testified just in the last day or so up on capitol hill will tailor our assistance to a changing situation. >> okay. and lastly, egypt has been a tremendous ally to the united states, according to the government, on the issue of counterterrorism. where are you concerned that
there might not be as much support in the next government, whoever it is? what areas? >> well, i will say this, jake. obviously we're going to watch the events as you and many others will in the days and months ahead. i can say that our -- the important relationships that we have at different levels in our government with their government, i think the president was -- was assured continued, and particularly the one you mentioned. >> thank you, robert. all the best in your next endeav endeavor. can you talk to us about the role that the vice president played in what ended up happening in egypt. i know he sent a strongly worded letter to his counterpart, mr. suleiman, two days ago. can you describe his role. >> look, i think the vice president has -- we talked about
it in here. he had a counterpart-to-counterpart relationship with vice president suleiman and has on a number of occasions spoken directly with him, and quite honestly to have reiterated largely the very same set of points that you've heard us make public, and that is that the genuine steps that needed to be taken to address the concerns that -- that those in tahrir square and throughout the country have had. i think he has -- he's been -- he's been on the phone fairly regularly. i think obviously he has brought to meetings in the situation room and the oval office, like last evening, quite a bit of knowledge and experience in foreign affairs and foreign
policy that have helped guide the administration along the last 18 days or so. >> was that phone call though, did you get the readout with some of the demands, was that a pivotal moment in this crisis? >> look, i think that -- i think it's probably hard to go back and pinpoint all of them, but i would say that it was hard to -- hard to i think be any clearer and more blunt than the vice president was on that call about the steps that -- that we, that the international community and most importantly the people of egypt needed to see happen, and i think that -- i think that certainly helped move this process along. >> yesterday when the president made his comments on egypt at
the top of his remarks in michigan, was the white house at that time fairly optimistic that mr. mubarak was going to step down yesterday? >> well, as i said, dan, i said earlier in this briefing, i think many of the same contacts that we had are. of the same contacts that your network and many others in this room have been reporting what might happen in egypt yesterday. i think the president talked about historic transformations which -- which we've seen quite frankly play out each and every day in the last 18, but i think what's important now is we have to look forward and work -- help all work through a process to get us to the free and fair elections that so many have spent time yearning for. >> finally, just to follow up on what ben was asking. i'm not sure i heard an answer to this notion of concern from the white house as to what
happened between now and the elections in september. is there concern about what the leadership structure will be like and what could potentially happen before the people of egypt start voting in september? >> well, again, i think that -- i don't think we have to fear democracy. i don't -- i think the international community has, and, again, i think most importantly the people have laid out a series of steps that they need to see taken, but i think it's important, dan, to understand that this was -- this was a group of demonstrations and protests that were -- that demonstrated the breadth of concern across egyptian society. again, i don't -- i don't think you can look at it and say this was the group that did this or
these are the people that -- again, what you've seen is mothers and daughters. you've seen this process in some ways led by somebody that works for, as i said a couple of days ago, one of the larger companies in the silicon valley, so i think this is -- what you've seen is the breadth of cause and concern that had to have been addressed and needed to be addressed by the government, and i think today was the very first step in that process. >> thank you, robert. >> thank you, robert, and congratulations. i hope it was as good for you as it was for us. >> he's trying to bait me, and i'm not going to bite. >> you said obviously there's going to be some bumps in the road and the military needs to lay out a clear path. what is going to be the role of the president, the vice president, the secretary of state publicly over the next weeks and months? do they now pull back and say, okay, this is really up to the
egyptian people now and we're not going to intervene, or do they keep up the public pressure with statements? >> i think, again, first and foremost, this was always about the people of egypt. this always was going to be solved by the people of egypt. no statement here, no -- no comment that was made here was going to i think bring the fundamental change that people were looking forward to in egypt. we talked about it a lot here. i think the people in egypt, again, they had their concerns, and they are not going to be the definition of how to solve those concerns is not going to be -- not going to be solved here, but, again, i think we will continue to try to play as constructive a role in -- in helping this process along, but, again, i think this started with the egyptian people, and it will end with the egyptian people. >> but do you think the president and vice president,
the secretary of state will be as publicly out there and pressing the military? >> i think what we've seen -- well, i think at every step along this way we have been very clear about the response, and you heard the president discuss it today, about violence, and i think it's remarkable. what we've seen in the past 18 days in terms of the type of sweeping change is -- is unlike anything we've ever seen in a short period of time, and i think the next process of this is -- is going to play out over a much longer arc. we will continue to be involved and to ensure that the transition -- the transitional government in egypt and ultimately the government that the people choose to represent the people of egypt, if they take the steps that are necessary to meet the concerns
of those in egypt, then this government will be a strong partner to it and to all of our friends in the region. >> why exactly did the president choose not to call foreign leader, egyptian leaders or other leaders in the region over the last day or two? >> let me go back and see if there's been any yesterday. he has not talked to anybody today. >> why? >> i think -- i think we have -- i think we're watching events and monitoring them, and i don't doubt in the days ahead that the president will reach out to those, but this is an egyptian story today. >> and the last question. is there a hope in the white house that the example in egypt could inspire another uprising in iran? >> well, i -- as i mentioned earlier, i think there is a lot of contrast between the way the government of egypt and the people of egypt are interacting and the government of iran is threatening its very own people.
i think if the government of iran was as confident as they would have you believe and the statements that they put out, they would have nothing to fear, with the peaceful demonstration like those that you've seen in cairo and throughout egypt. they are not that confident. they are scared. that's why they threatened to kill anybody that tries to do this. that's why they have shut off all measure of communication. i think it speaks volumes -- speaks volumes about the strength and the confidence that they have and in fulfilling the wishes and the will of its people. >> do you have any sense if the images coming from egypt are getting into iran? we've heard the vice president and you talk about iran. i wonder if the administration thinks there's a chance that the message is somehow getting into iran? >> listen, i think that we've all seen reports that, you know,
over the past many days that there -- that those in iran have been want to march and demonstrate peacefully. again, the government of iran has met the concerns of its people with threatening to kill them. again, i think it speaks volumes as to what -- it speaks volumes to the grip that they have or lack thereof on the popular beliefs of their own people. >> can you talk about vice president suleiman's role at this point. is he still in a key role, or is he on his way out as well? >> mike, i think that is -- i think that is a question for -- for the transitional government in egypt. >> talk a little bit, if you don't mind, about the communications challenge with this event unfolding halfway
around the globe, trying not to get ahead of the message. how challenging was that? >> well, look, as i said earlier -- >> all right. here he is robert gibbs wrapping up this, his final day as the white house press secretary. almost all of his briefing dealing with egypt, what has happened, the history under folding in egypt. at the beginning you saw president barack obama go in there and praise his press secretary and a longtime aide. very interestingly, even most of this briefing was on egypt, he did go out of his way, as vice president joe biden did earlier in the day, to lash out at the regime in iran. this is a government of iran, gibbs just said, that's threatening its own people. he said they are fully scared by the will of -- they are quite frankly scared by the will of its own people, and that's why he's saying that what has happened in egypt right now where the uprising resulted in the revolution, the people of egypt, responding, getting rid of a dictator. he's saying the iranian government is taking brutal measures right now to prevent
that from happening in iran. we'll stay on top of this part of the story. it's near the top of the hour. i'm wolf blitzer. also, we're watching what's going on. the revolution in egypt. cnn's hala gorani is with us as well. we'll get to her in just a moment, but let's listen to the president sending several clear signals just a little while ago to the egyptians. >> the military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the egyptian people. that means protecting the rights of egypt's citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free. the united states will continue to be a friend and partner to
egypt. we stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary and asked for to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. >> the president a short time ago there talking about the situation in egypt, an historic day. the longtime autocratic leader of egypt hosni mubarak stepping down. it was announced by the vice president omar suleiman. mubarak transferring power to the military leadership in egypt. many egyptians hoping that this will lead to true democracy in their country. it is now four plus seven, five minutes past 11:00 p.m. in egypt right now. nic robertson is still in tahrir square. what are people around you saying? are they still -- has the mood sort of lessened a bit? have people started going home, or is it still party central there in tahrir square tonight, nic? >> reporter: hala, it's very hard to hear you down here, but people if i can say it are
deliriously happy. people are coming up asking us what we think. i'll ask this young lady next to me what she thinks. what do you think? >> today is a great day for egypt. everyone is finally happy. everyone is finally free. it's a great deal for all egyptians. we have a chance. ♪ we have a chance to chase freedom. everyone is very happy. it's overwhelming. >> are you worried about the next few days and now the army is in control? are you worried about security? >> no. the army has been down here for a very long time, and i don't think everyone -- everyone in the streets, everyone are protecting the streets. everyone has been there for a couple of days. everyone is protecting everyone. >> roseanne, thanks very much. i'm going to talk to mohammed now. mohammed, everyone is very, very excited down here, and we're just going to talk to mohammed
for a moment. mohammed, everyone is very excited. but how did you feel when you first heard that president mubarak has stepped down? >> i feel freedom, another chance to be a human being. he was animal. we know that now we're human. >> and what president obama has said today in his speech that he'll offer assistance to the people of egypt if they want it and hopes that the process goes peacefully and hopes there's jobs for the young people of egypt. what do you want to say to president obama in the united states? >> i say he's a good man, loves freedom, stand behind the people of egypt and from the people of egypt i say to him thank you.
>> thank you very much. we're going to talk to one of our friends down here who has been helping us at the health clinic, mohammed. mohammed, you've been working at the health clinic down here on the square. how do you feel about what has happened from the beginning? >> we are here from the beginning. >> reporter: and how do you feel now that president mubarak has stepped down? >> i think we made history now, and i think we deserve this liberation. we deserve this, and we make this, and we need this.
i think our future needs us. our country needs us. i think our stollen money must be taken back and be ruled by justice and by liberty. >> mohammed, thank you very much. i don't know if you can still hear me over the crowd. >> we're having a bit -- we're having issues hearing you there, nic. we'll get back to you when it's a little bit calmer around you, but we saw there's a little bit of everything that the people nic spoke, young people, men, women, representatives really of a movement, a pro-democracy movement or an anti-regime movement in egypt that has really achieved its goal today, and that is to depose really the dictator of egypt, hosni mubarak, and we're hearing from ivan watson, our other reporters on the ground, that cairo has come to life again. when we were there a few days
ago these sort of tour boats had stopped criss-crossing the nile, and now we're hearing that they are all lit up and kind of sailing up and down the nile in cairo, and this is an aerial view, a live picture right on the nile with still heavy traffic, lights, streetlights, some spontaneous fireworks. other manifestations and demonstrations of joy and the feeling among the people there that what they have fought long and hard for was worth fighting long and hard for. it was in some cases very violent, deadly movement, but all in our relatively speaking, it was -- it was an effort that led in 18 days only to the removal of hosni mubarak. wolf? >> an amazing moment indeed, and i suspect if it remains quiet now, people are celebrating, tourism will come back. there will be a robust tourism
industry in egypt which is so critical to the economic welfare of that country. so many beautiful sights and sounds to experience in egypt. tourists will be coming in once again from all over the world. we can only hope. let's bring in barbara starr. she's over at the pentagon. barbara, this u.s. egyptian military-to-military relationship is going to be significant, significantly critical right now in determining what's next. i don't think -- i don't think barbara is hearing me, unfortunately. >> reporter: actually, wolf, i just started to hear you. we're having a little trouble. >> let me repeat the question. the u.s./egyptian military connection. >> reporter: we want to remind people, though there's a very justified celebration across cairo, some very hard days likely to come ahead for the egyptian military which now is running the country. let me just refer to one piece of information which is, you remember, there was a wikileaks
cable, that big dump of leaked diplomatic cables, and there are some references to the egyptian military. in a 2008 u.s. diplomatic cable about the current military leadership of egypt. they refer to field marshall tantawi, the most senior leader by all accounts, the minister of defense on the leadership council, they refer to him and say there are egyptian military officers that call him mubarak's poodle. that he's all about and was about pleasing president mubarak, that he is the minister of defense. that the chief of defense staff, the top uniform military, general annan, also many military officers in egypt referring to him as incompetent. the egyptian military has been struggling for many years, also with the economy, with a
disgruntled enlists corps, so now the question becomes can this army leadership council really take charge of the government? can they ensure stability? can they move ahead towards elections, or inside the egyptian military is it -- does it have its own unlevel of unrest, if you will, that may be very problematic in the days ahead, if you will? >> barbara starr over at the pentagon. we'll stay in close touch with her. we're also getting reaction from other members of congress, including senator ron paul and we'll be going back to the streets of cairo to see what's happening there, and all of our reporters are standing by. hala gorani is there. if you want to tweet hala or me, we're getting tweets like crazy from viewers all over the world. we want to hear from you on twitter. stay with us. we'll be right back. ♪ you don't know
basic. preferred. at meineke i have options on oil changes. and now i get free roadside assistance with preferred or supreme. my money. my choice. my meineke. wellcome back. we're continuing our coverage of egypt, the dramatic developments happening today. historic developments. hosni mubarak is no longer the president of egypt. all power has now been handed over to the egyptian military which is in charge of this transition period leading towards free and fair elections.
how long that transition will take is anyone's guess. joining us now is republican congressman from texas ron paul. joining us from the political action conference in washington. thanks very much for joining us. let's talk about egypt, a subject you know quite a bit about. you said controversial remarks. he said the egypt -- egypt is the united states' 30-year mistake. what were you referring to? >> well, we've invested a lot of money in mubarak, and i don't think it was a good investment. it was stable for a while, but it was building the resentiment and the instability that finally burst out. i would say the $70 billion was not worth it and that, unfortunately, many of those dollars ended up in swiss bank accounts for his family so i think it was a big mistake, and we really don't have the money to spare. i don't think it does anything for our national security. >> so if you had your way, the
billion and a half dollars a year that the u.s. provides egypt in military, mostly military, 1.3 billion and another $200 million of economic assistance, if you had your way, all of that would be gone immediately, is that what you're saying? >> oh, yeah. i think so. i'm not a believer in foreign aid. you know, i sort of liked what eisenhower did in 1956. i was a college student then, had remembered the korean war, and when the british and the french were attacked by the egyptians to talk the take the canal they went to eisenhower who said i don't want anything to do with it. we should do a lot less a lot sooner and not waste all this money because it tends to come back and haunt us. it reminds a little bit of propping up the shah of iran. look at that problem. and then we ended up with the ayatollah. they are not good investments. i like the founders' advice, be friends with people and trade with people and negotiate and get along with them, but not to
get involved in internal affairs and all these treaties and border squabbles. it's not in our best interest, but it will come to an end, mainly for economic reasons, and that's what happened to the soviet system. they didn't end all of a sudden because they got wisdom. they came to an end because they got bogged down in afghanistan and went bankrupt and the whole system fell apart and we'll face a situation just like that and we'll have to pull apart. >> so you're saying the united states should walk away from egypt and let the egyptians do what they want, but in terms of maintaining this very tight military-to-military connection, the u.s. should lead the egyptians to the egyptians. is that your attitude? >> sure, i think so. i mean, if we had a problem like that, we wouldn't want foreigners in here to sort this out. we would say it's our responsibility, so i think that's the problem that we've been too much involved so the sooner we get out of it, the better. we shouldn't -- i mean, right
now i'm sure our state department, our cia is looking around for our next guy that we can support because most of them now have expressed, well, we can't really give a democracy. they might elect the wrong person. we're all for democracy as long as they pick the right person, and we just as soon prefer a dictator that will do our bidding and give them a lot of money. i'd like another option rather than either just bombing people or giving them money. i would say friendship and diplomacy is a much better way to go. i mean this, army was built by us, and the military industrial complex loved it. they made a lot of money off, it but army was there for all the 30 years to protect mubarak. it wasn't for national defense purposes so that's our army. 450,000 troops that we more or less stocked. >> administration officials going back to republican administration officials, bush or reagan, the current administration or bill clinton's administration, they will argue this military assistance to
egypt is a good investment in the united states because egypt was an ally, strategic partner and cooperated with the u.s. in the war on terror, for example, so this was money well spent. that's the argument we've heard now for 30 years. >> oh, yeah, but i think our current events prove my point. it wasn't well spent because it ended up in chaos, and we don't know who the next dictator is going to be and it helped contribute to our bankruptcy. >> maybe the next -- maybe the next leader of egypt -- but if the next leader of egypt, congressman, is a democratically elected leader, popular and doing all the right things, it wouldn't necessarily be a dictator. why do we have to assume the next leader of egypt will be a dictator? >> that would be great, but i -- i personally believe that the odds of that happening are much better if we're not there picking up -- picking the individuals to spend our money on it. i'm for that. i just don't believe that the best way to do that is to get in there and finance the military. the military, of course, right
now is dependant on us, and the mill industry in charge so we really own the country right now through the military, and the people will not put up with this. temporarily maybe, but ultimately the people will reject it. we need to think about these problems in terms of what if another country did that to us. the democrats and republicans and intdependents would all rebl against that and that's something i think the americans don't understand. >> you got that point, that egyptians don't want any outside interference in their domestic affairs and want to do what they need do and at least today they seem to be on that path. it looks to be a very difficult path. congressman, you're at the political action conference in washington, cpac. one question before you go. are you going to seek the republican presidential nomination this year? >> i haven't made up my mind, and that's a truthful answer, and i'm sort of glad nobody else has made up their mind either so i feel like i have a couple more
months to sort it all out but thanks for asking. >> you'll make your mind up in the next two months? >> yeah. i would think so. it would necessary in the next several months of some sort. i don't have a timetable. >> you want to respond to donald trump who told that cpac conference, told your supporters there that you don't have a chance of getting elected? i think i'm paraphrasing what he said but he was brutally blunt in a donald trump kind of way. >> yeah. you know, some people pointed out, a lot of people said that about my views when i ran for congress, and i was elected to congress 11 times and i had the same views and some of my views are very libertarian, challenge theus quo of republicans. had a bible belt district and they said there's no way you can win the election by basing everything on the constitution. people aren't interested in that anymore so winning 11 elections would sort of raise a question
on whether or not that was an accurate statement. >> you've been pretty impressive over the years, and you were pretty impressive i must say in the -- in the run for the republican nomination last time around. your supporters were probably the most enthusiastic out there, as i can personally testify. congressman, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you. ron paul, the republican congressman from texas. hala, back to you. >> all right, thanks, wolf. up next, fareed zakaria with more on what today means for egypt going forward. what will the future hold for the protesters and the pre-democracy activists? we'll be right back on cnn. how are those flat rate boxes working out? fabulous! they gave me this great idea. yea? we mail documents all over the country, so, what if there were priority mail flat rate... envelopes? yes! you could ship to any state... for a low flat rate? yes! a really low flat rate. like $4.95? yes! and it could look like a flat rate box... only flatter? like this? you...me...genius.
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well, this is a live picture of tahrir square. egyptians there in the square who for the last 18 days have wanted their leader to step down. they have achieved their goals. they are satisfied. it is very much a party atmosphere. they are in tahrir square, as well as in other parts of cairo, and from what i've been reading in other parts of the world and egyptian communities abroad in the united states and europe as well. a lot of satisfaction from those who have fought. some who have died in fact on the streets of kcairo, and they have achieved that goal of overthrowing their autocratic
leader hosni mubarak. fareed zakaria joins us live from new york. it's been five envelope hours since we heard from vice president suleiman that hosni mubarak was stepping down. now we can look at this situation a little bit perhaps with a colder head. what next in the coming days for egypt, if a read? >> i think the most important thing that needs to happen that it becomes very clear that this is a transition of military rule. what does it take to make that clear? i think you need some kind of committee to amend or rewrite the egyptian constitution. you would need some kind of process which would put in place elections, three months, six months, a year, both for the national assembly and the presidency. presumably you would need to have the sequels correctly so first you have a referendum on a constitution and then you have the election and then the national assembly and then the
election of the president. but if you don't have fairly clear -- a fairly clear path to this happening, and there is kind of an indefinite period of consultative committees and mulling things over i think people will lose heart, and i think that the administration in washington is quite focused on making sure that now they use their leverage to do precisely, that get on a road map to democracy. >> what is the risk if the path is not made clear at this stage, do you think, fareed? >> reporter: the risk for egyptian democracy that this is the moment where the crowd, where the street, where the people had maximum leverage. they have used it. they have got something, but what they have got to hope is that this didn't end up being a symbolic victory. they need it to be a substantive victory. the symbolic victory was mubarak leaving. the substantive victory is the regime is transformed from what is still a military dictatorship
into a liberal secular dem >> i now the military in egypt is a trusted institution. it's not a democratic engine for change in egypt. is there a confidence out there among observers that the military has not just the wilbur the ability to usher true change in egypt? >> reporter: it's a fantastic question, hala, because the reality is the military is deeply entrenched in the power structure. it is the power structure. it has enormous economic benefits that come from being the power structure. the military owns hundreds of factors, military generals live lavish lifestyles. will they give that up easily? no. what you have to do is give the people, civil society, some platforms of power. right now they have none. they are out there in tahrir square and that's great but they don't have any platforms or
instruments of power. if they get the national assembly and get the presidency and get the constitution in effect, that gives them platforms of power, and that will slowly then erode the military's enormous prerogatives in power. it's not going to happen overnight, and if you look at the case of turkey, of indonesia, of see that while the military receded from their paramount role, it took two decades in the case of both those countries and with a lot of pressure from the european union, from the united states, so this is -- this is a marathon, and we're just at the beginning. >> not a sprint. regarding turkey, i mean, is egypt potentially a country that could model itself on turkey with a democratic process, with the tutelage -- under the tutelage of the military? i mean, is that something that egypt can look to as a model, do you think? >> well, i think certainly turkey has been a very successful model, and i think there are elements of it that are going to be similar, but
let's remember. the turkish military really ran the country and ceded power reluctantly over two decades largely because the european union made clear that there was no way turkey was even going to be remotely considered for european union membership as long as the military had this enormous role, and they had specific requests, the most important of which was only acceded to two years ago, that it not be a military-dominated conference but a civilian one, all those kinds of things, so i would hope that egypt can start from a slightly more secure place with firm civilian control over the military. the military is going to play a very large role, but in any democracy in, any modern democracy, the starting point has got to be that the man or the woman who makes the decisions as to -- ultimate decisions of war and peace is somebody elected by the people
and not somebody who rose from the officer corps. >> all right. fareed zakaria, host of "fareed zakaria gps." wolf, back to you. >> a very, very smart guy. "fareed zakaria gps" airs every sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on cnn. let's go back to cairo. cnn's frederik pleitgen is standing by. are you still in tahrir square, fred? is that where you are? ? >> reporter: i'm actually outside of tahrir square on one of the main roads. a lot of people have gathered here. they are very happy. they are riding their cars through the street. i don't know how much you can see, but if you pan over there a little bit you can see there's a lot of people on a car over there making a lot of noise. it's a big celebration here. there you go. and there's a lot going on. it's a big street party here. what they are saying is egypt, egypt. they are very happy. as you can see.
back to you, wolf. >> it looks exciting. we're going to get back to you. we'll get back to all of our correspondents, ben wedeman, arwa damon, nic robertson, a lot of reporters watching what's happening in egypt. up next, assistant secretary of state for political military affairs under president bush, we'll discuss what's happening in the region with him when we come back.
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we're watching what's happening in tahrir square. hundreds of thousands, many millions of people are partying. they are celebrating in egypt. mubarak is now the former president of egypt. he's gone. we believe he's in sharm el sheikh on the red sea, the southernmost tip of sinai. he's in the in cairo and has handed over authority to the military. let's bring in mark mckimmon, secretary of state of political affairs under president george w. bush. also, let's remind our viewers that you have had defense contracts in egypt as executive vice president of advanced technology systems, the company here in washington, which is a defense contracting firm, and at one point you were actually in charge of that $1.3 billion a year in military as fans that --
of assistance that the united states provides going back decades to the camp david accords. you heard congressman ron paul that it's a waste of money, that the u.s. can't afford it and shouldn't even be providing that kind of military assistance to egypt. just get out of it. get out of that business. >> with all due respect to an elected member of congress, the fact is the money given to the egyptian military, corresponding to the money given to the israeli military under the camp david accords has been a pretty good investment over the past years. it's maintained peace in the region an maintained peace between egypt and israel and allowed egypt to modernize their forces. when you're talking about $10 million a month to run a war in places such as iraq and afghanistan, 1.3 billion a year for egypt is a pretty inexpensive price for peas. >> i guess congressman paul's argument was two front, two-pronged, if you will, the u.s. can't afford it anymore, but, two, it propped up a
dictator in egypt for 30 years. >> well, what it has done is allowed the egyptian military to modern size and stay at pace with the technological revolutions and help us in countries such as afghanistan, and, again, it has maintained its strong relationship between egypt and israel. >> you know the commander in chief of the egyptian armed forces, general tantawi. do you think he'll do the right thing, that the egyptian leadership will do the right thing, leader a caretaker provisional government, if you will, towards free and fair elections? >> well, i do. up to this point the military has played a very wise role in this entire process. they have stayed loyal to egypt, not to the protesters, not to president mubarak but to the nation of egypt. they have every reason in the world to maintain that relationship, to maintain that allegiance to egypt. they should not be a political force. they should be custodians of this revolution, help the process moving forward. they should not see this as an
opportunity as some have already said for a military coup, but hopefully they will be as wise and judicious post-revolution as they have been pre-revolution. >> because what, it's been six, seven hours ago, we heard the vice president, omar suleiman, say that mubarak is stepping down. he's no longer the president and handing over all oh, all authority to the egyptian military. are they ready for this egyptian military? do you know how to run a country? >> well, they will certainly understand that the first thing they should do is find a committee, as fareed zakaria said, or a person or a political representative to do the political heavy lifting. the military is designed to maintain stability inside of egypt, defend their borders. they are -- they are a respected organization within egypt. they want to maintain that respect, not only today but for years to come, and i think they recognize that to maintain that respect, maintain their honor, they need to be part of the process, that orderly, peaceful transition, as they -- as egypt
transitions from the mubarak regime to a secular, democratic, pluralistic regime in the future, and they can be a part of it, they can be the custodians, but i don't think they want to be the actual political leaders. >> so you don't see this as a soft military coup as some have called it? >> i don't see it as a soft military coup at all. in fact, i think the military reluctantly is standing up to their obligations to maintain stability inside of egypt and will work as hard as they can to make sure that the nation of egypt moves through this period in a peaceful, democratic, pluralistic way, orderly transition that we all want to see. >> now a lot of our viewers know that the u.s. military relationship with egypt is strong. a lot of egyptians come here to the united states for training, whether in the air force, the navy or the army or whatever, and that there's a significant u.s. number of trainers in egypt working with the egyptian military. what a lot of them probably don't know or don't remember,
there are what, 1,000 american troops in egypt right now in sinai specifically, part of what's called the multi-national force and observer mission in sinai. they have been there since the signing of the israeli-egyptian peace treaty back in 1979 and they are still there. >> part of a coalition of forces and nations that are supporting the camp david accords, about 1,000. >> 1,000 american troops. >> about 1,000 american troops. >> all army. >> 425 in the infantry battalion and the remainder in support battalion, aviators, mostly logisticans. >> what do they do in sinai all the time? >> they monitor the provisions of the camp david peace accord. they have monitoring responsibilities. they have patrolling responsibilities, peacekeeping responsibilities. >> you oversaw them for a while? >> i did not oversee them. a colleague of mine, david satterfield, is overseeing them now. >> and he's based in rome. >> and he's based in rome. >> flies into egypt every now
and then to see what's going on. it's a nice cushy job, i think. >> it's a job that's ensured peace in the sinai for 30-plus years, and we're lucky to have diplomats such as david satterfield at the head of that organization. >> you're a diplomat yourself. well spoken. it's a tough job though. i mean, if you're an american soldier going to spend what, how long do they usually spend there, six months at a time, a year at a time? >> a year at a time. >> take a look at these pictures from cairo right now, fireworks all over the place. they are celebrating in egypt. when you see these pictures, and you've been there many times. you've worked with the egyptian military over the years, general. what goes through your mind? >> a combination of joy and a bit of concern. clearly there are some forces inside of egypt that might want to take advantage of this situation, that may want to create chaos, take advantage of this, not see an orderly and peaceful transition. there are some organizations inside of egypt that would like to see egypt turn into a theocracy rather than a secular
democracy. that's why while i'm very happy to see the celebration of the egyptian people, i would also like to see this process move forward in a way that benefits those people in a democratic way, in a pluralistic way, and not have happen in egypt as we've seen happen in other countries in the region. >> we'd all like to see that. if that happens, that would be excellent. general kimmitt, thanks for coming in. >> thanks for having me. >> hala, back to you. >> thank you, wolf. up next, the leadership change in egypt is having a huge impact on markets and on the price of oil. we'll bring you that after this. stay with us. [ male announcer ] investing for yourself isn't some optional pursuit. a privilege for the ultra-wealthy. it's a necessity. find investments with e-trade's top 5 lists. quickly. easily. use pre-defined screeners and insightful trading ideas to dig deeper. work smarter. not harder. depend on yourself the one person you should trust
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all right. let's go to poppy harlow in new york with more on the financial impact that this is all having on oil prices. poppy, what can you tell us? >> we've been watching oil very closely for the past three weeks as this has just escalated, and what we saw two weeks ago is oil prices topped $92 a barrel, and all of that was on the concern about the unrest in egypt. i want to tell you today after news that mubarak had stepped
down, oil prices fell about $1.30, closing just above $85 a barrel but what we need to be talking about is what are the broader implications? we know where oil is now but what does this do to the rest of the region that is so critical to the global oil market? egypt really isn't important to the price of our oil. they produce millions of barrels but they use it within the country. the suez kannell sees 2% of the world's oil go through it. again, not a huge impact. the real concern among oil analysts, literally got off the phone with an egyptian oil analyst from oppenheimer, and he says we have seen the people rising and them succeeding in overthrowing their government. if we see any unrest like this, hala, in saudi arabia, that is a huge concern for oil prices, whether it's in saudi or iran, et cetera, he says oil in the long term could easily top $100 a barrel, if we see this spreading. if the saudi regime does not quickly act to give their people more democracy, we will see a
big impact on oil, and one more thing. another oil analyst just told me, hala, quote, the saudis are pretty secure, but this has to make them nervous, very nervous. >> all right, poppy, very happy. well, brooke baldwin and i will going to talk about the last 18 days, 18 days leading up to this history-making revolution. >> can you believe? the evolution of the revolution right after the break. if we didn't have to weigh 'em all. if those boxes are under 70 lbs. you don't have to weigh 'em. with these priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service, if it fits, it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. no weigh? nope. no way. yeah. no weigh? sure. no way! uh-uh. no way. yes way, no weigh. priority mail flat rate shipping starts at just $4.95, only from the postal service. a simpler way to ship. when i got my medicare card, i realized i needed an aarp... medicare supplement insurance card, too.
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. well, welcome back, everyone. brooke baldwin and i are going to look at the evolution of the revolution, and, wolf, it's been great anchoring with you the last i want to say five and a half, almost six hours since that announcement was made and history was made in egypt. >> yeah. i'm sure we'll do it again, guys. thanks very much. i'm getting ready for two more hours in "the situation room." michael holmes will be joining me, so we're going to have a lot more on what's happening in egypt. we're not going away from this story. and the hi, brooke. >> hi, wolf. excellent job for the last five hours. see you in a bit in "the situation room." we'll give you a little bit of a reprieve. as i finish out with you, hala. looking back, today we're calling it a revolution but 18 days ago it was really organized by facebook. >> absolutely. >> and you're in there and part of this peace that we're about to show. we've seen everything, violence and molotov cocktails and women and children in makeshift, you
know, medical units and everything in between, and a passive military at the time. i want you to look back the past 18 days. this is the evolution of the revolution. friday, january 28th. the demonstrators call it a day of rage, and soon after friday prayers anti-government protesters in the thousands flood the streets of egypt's biggest cities. the army, deployed to keep the peace for the first time in a generation, the crowds finding a way of mobilizing even though internet service was cut and mobile phones severely curtailed. the target of their anger, president hosni mubarak in power for 30 years, blaming him for egypt's economic troubles, including corruption, runaway prices and unemployment. the epicenter of the protests, egypt's tahrir or liberation square in the heart of cairo.
then, after midnight in the early hours of saturday, january 29th, president mubarak goes on national television, somberly acknowledging the protesters' concerns. he announces a new government, including reinstating the position of vice president, as well as naming a new prime minister in cabinet. >> translator: i ask the government to resign today. >> in tahrir square, the protesters say the speech has done little. mubarak, they shud shout, must step down. amid reports of looting and rioting, authorities call a curfew in the major cities. local neighborhood groups band together to keep out looters. this country of 80 million gripped by chaos. sunday, january 30th, key opposition figure mohamed elbaradei arrives in cairo's tahrir square calling on mubarak to, quote, leave today and save the country.
tuesday, february 1st, anti-mubarak protesters call a march of millions. ahead of the march the president says in a televised speech he will not seek re-election. >> translator: i have spent enough time in the service of the country and its people. >> but, tens of thousands of demonstrators pack shoulder to shoulder in tahrir square to denounce the speech. still, there is support for mubarak, too, especially from those who believe the chaos is destroying egypt. then a surreal scene in tahrir square as dozens of men riding horses and camels charge into the crowd, beating anti-mubarak demonstrators. the government later says the men were employed in the tourism trade and were upset with the demonstrations. then, days of clashes, molotov cocktails thrown and journalists, including our own anderson cooper, coming under assault.
>> been hit now like ten times. >> the violence only worsens thursday. journalists increasingly under attack, detained, stabbed or intimidated. >> we are coming to you live from cairo tonight from an undisclosed location. i can't tell you where we are, frankly for our own safety. there's a lot of journalists now who have kind of gone to ground in cairo. >> friday, february 4th. the opposition calls this the day of departure. hosni mubarak though is showing no signs of leaving immediately. hundreds of thousands gather again in cairo and from washington the source of more than $1 billion in annual aid calls for the violence to end. >> so we are sending a strong and unequivocal message. attacks on reporters are unacceptable. attacks on human rights activists are unacceptable. attacks on peaceful protesters are unacceptable. >> for a while the protests appear to run out of steam. the president unbowing and the
protesters undeterred, a stalemate at tahrir square until the release of the man widely credited with organizing the protests online. wael ghonim, a marketing director from google who in his spare time set up a facebook page to organize the anti-mubarak campaign. security forces had detained ghonim soon after the january 25th protests began. upon his release, he electrifies the nation saying he's prepared to die for the cause. >> you are not going to stop us. kidnap me, kidnap all my colleagues. put us in jail, kill us, do whatever you want to do. we are getting back our country. >> thursday, february 10th, the military tells the crowd in tahrir their demands would be met. tens of thousands more flood to the capital. the move resembling a concert and reports that the president may step down. late in the evening hosni mubarak announces he is
delegating most powers to his vice president but is not leaving. the announcement greeted with boos and jeers and for the demonstrators the roller coaster of emotions continues. friday, february 11th, the crowds in tahrir swell and reports also come in large gatherings in cities across egypt, and then the bombshell announcement read on state tv by his deputy. >> translator: president hosni mubarak has decided to step down as president of egypt. >> the deposed president leaves the capital. the affairs of state in the hands of a military council. questions remain about the transition to democracy, but wael ghonim sums up the euphoria in the moment in egypt in a telephone interview with cnn. >> we were all looking for egypt and thank god we found her today. >> a revolution that ousted a regime many considered unshakeable, a revolution that
reached its climax in a matter of just days. and i just think it's amazing that it's been 18 days, you know, from some facebook page and several organizers, several thousand organizers to today, day 18. we hear from vp omar suleiman saying hosni mubarak is no longer in charge. >> it feels like a very long time, and it feels like months, not weeks, that we've been following this because these events have been so incredibly history-making. they have changed a country and a region forever. history was truly made today. >> what will stay with you? you were there. we were watching and during the piece when you saw the camels and the horses and the rubber bullets and the water thrown, what image stays with you forever? >> you know, for years we've heard from experts and pundits and even some members of the government, what will bring these autocratic governments down will be islamist movements. in the end is wasn't an islamist movement. in the end it was internet-savvy